I am delighted to give you a glimpse of the Book Harvest story.
Chapter One of our story opened in 2011 down my gravel driveway, in a dusty, crowded garage filled with donated books. The cast of characters started out small, just a handful of quirky dreamers. By the end of the first chapter, though, the Book Harvest story had gained a momentum that I could not have begun to imagine – with a joyful office teeming with activity, with hundreds of volunteers and dozens of distribution partners, with a community that cares so much about getting all children the tools they need to succeed that it has entrusted us with more than 1,300,000 donated books by 2020 — and counting.
Here are some of the stars in our story:
The recent refugee child who arrived with just a suitcase a year ago. Even though her room is spare, that room is a haven of riches, with stacks of books on the floor next to her bed.
The brother and sister who delight in playing school library together every time they select new Book Harvest books to take home to keep, putting a card in the front of each book and proudly signing it out from their teacher Mom before they read it.
The dad who diligently reads Goodnight Moon every day to his 8-week-old because he wants him to have a better shot at finishing school than he had.
The mom who recently told me, “I know that literacy starts at home, and it starts with me.”
I founded Book Harvest with the simple dream that every child in our community grow up in the presence of books, and plenty of them. I treasure bedtime stories. I loved to read as a child, and I wanted all kids to have that joy.
But that simple reason, rooted in joy, exists alongside another reason:
Children who grow up in the presence of books do better in school than children who don’t.
Simply stated: books build brains. The benefits of a book-rich home environment begin accruing at birth. If we wait until a child starts school, we’ve waited too long. The consequences of raising a child in a bookless home are direct, severe, and lifelong. And there are a lot of kids in our midst who don’t own books.
But here’s the good news: this is a problem we can fix. And Book Harvest is doing just that. We are fixing it with grit and intentionality, laying a pipeline of books that starts at birth and will, when we realize our big dreams, continue all the way to age 10 and beyond. And we are accompanying parents on their journey — providing them with not just books, but with literacy support and information on brain development, so that they can continue to nourish their children’s vast potential. What a joy and a privilege this work is for us!
If you were a part of our first chapter, thank you! And if you believe in our dream of books for all kids, then help us continue to write the story of Book Harvest as we approach our second decade. We need you!
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Tell your friends.
Every child in our community deserves to grow up in a home rich with books. We intend to be there for them, with plenty of books, as they write their stories.
With gratitude and hope,